Tree Climbers Unite
Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
If you didn't grow up in Sunday School, you may have missed the story of the 'short man' who climbed a tree to see Jesus - his name was Zacchaeus. He was a Jew, born of the line of Abraham, but was probably not very well-liked by his people because of his profession. He was the Chief Tax Collector in Jericho. As a tax collector, he was viewed as a 'defector' to his people - 'siding' with the Roman government. His identity as a member of Jewish society had probably been lost because he would have been shunned for choosing this course of life. It made no matter what lineage he proclaimed - he was an 'outsider' to his own people. Sometimes we can 'be' all the right things, but choose to 'do' the wrong things, making us feel like we are pretty much on the 'outside' of everything we desire.
As Jesus entered into his hometown, he desired nothing more than to see Jesus, but the crowds were way too big, and he was way too short! So, he did the only thing he could think of and climbed up into a tree to get a glimpse of the great teacher. Imagine a man of great stature in the government shimmying up the tree and hunkering down on a large limb. He did very little to maintain the 'integrity' of his prestigious position with that move! There are times when we just need to get past the 'outward appearance of importance' to get what it is we genuinely desire inwardly. Zacchaeus was no fool - he had all he needed in terms of society's offerings, but his soul was likely quite empty and needy. He 'needed' to see Jesus. There are times we just need to get ourselves in a position and posture where we will be able to 'see' Jesus a little better and hear his voice a little clearer.
Jesus took specific notice of this 'wee man' up on a limb and called him down. He told him he would go to his house to dine with him. This may not seem very significant at first, but to dine with a tax collector would have been considered dining with a sinner - making Jesus ceremonially 'unclean' in the eyes of all the Jewish leaders. Jesus took so much guff from these leaders over his choosing to commune with sinners, but he never stopped pursuing them, calling them out from the crowds and down from the trees! He knew they were 'hungrier' for him than most of the 'religious' of the day. Do you know the significance of what Jesus said to Zacchaeus that day - the passage we are looking at in our study this morning? He was telling Zacchaeus he was restored - Son of Abraham - a Jew - true to his name.
Zacchaeus actually means "pure" or "innocent". As Jesus finished with his time at his table, Jesus was telling Zacchaeus he was no longer unclean, but was now restored: whole, pure, and innocent. What would have happened if the 'wee man' didn't climb that tree that day? He risked his life, his reputation as a 'man of society' - putting pride aside, he climbed out onto the limb. Could he have missed this opportunity for restoration if he didn't? Perhaps, but all we know is that he did climb out on the limb, and he didn't miss it! There are going to be times when we not only 'need' restoration, but we will have to do whatever it takes to be in the 'position' and 'posture' to receive it. If we aren't willing to risk it all, we may miss it! Just sayin!